On the weekend of my fifty~seventh birthday my nephew (and Godson) Michael, and Erin, got married. The wedding was at Nostrano Vineyards in Milton, New York.
The scenery was perfect. I got a chance to hobnob with our relatives and Erin’s.
I couldn’t help being smitten by the view. Milton was named after the seventeenth~century Jacobin poet, author of “Paradise Lost”.
Having lived in New York and northeastern Pennsylvania throughout all my lifetime, I’m most certainly quite used, by now, to insane amounts of snow. I’ve also seen lots of it in western New York, including their recent storm, their worst ever. Fortunately, however, I’ve never once been subjected to an avalanche. Were I ever to have to face such a calamity, without hope of being rescued until the next day, I should be forced to think of how relieved I should inevitably be to get out alive. Anxiety often overtakes me so I should have to attempt not to focus on all the first hand circumstances. Perhaps that would be precisely the perfect time during which to indulge my lifelong habit of wallowing in the past. Besides the obvious thoughts of the immediate future, during which I should be able to dwell upon the security of a nice warm environment, I could also think of winters of yore, when even the worst of snowstorms inevitably found me inside someplace, safely awaiting the spring. During the average storm previous to this disaster, I could always expect to be subjected to nothing scarier than shoveling and driving. I wonder if, under those circumstances, I may please be permitted to have in my possession a significant supply of hot coffee, a large cup, and creamer to show for all my troubles. If that were possible, much of my battle could already be won anyway. I could veritably rejoice in the peace and quiet, temporarily isolated from all the disgusting cell phones and pop cultural nightmares. How pleasant it all would be not, at least temporarily, to have to be forcibly reminded, of all the truly atrocious things that are going on these days. That’s having been said, the only truly insurmountable nightmare would be the temperature and other weather problems.
Mitt and Keef are the oldest and very best of friends. They’ve known each other since they were little kids in Lindenhurst, even before they were old enough to be in school. Over the course of their virtually lifelong friendship, they’ve had all sorts of adventures together, both good and bad. They’re now middle aged husbands, and fathers of teenagers. One Friday night their wives, Mabel and Harriet, nagged them into going to bed extra early so they could get up before sunrise the next morning to weed their gardens. Bright and early on Saturday they went outside to get started on their assigned chore. A couple of hours had passed quietly without any notable incident in Keef’s yard. Eventually they got to Mitt’s yard. After about fifteen minutes Keef stumbled upon quite a find. It was an obviously old key, made in some obscure anachronistic style. Eventually they went inside Mitt’s house and casually mentioned it to their dumbfounded wives. Mabel’s jaw dropped in amazement. Little did they know how truly distinctive a find this was. She was quite knowledgeable about antiques, having grown up with them. The key he found while weeding in the garden was clearly an antique. They all knew quite well that neither couple could possibly afford such an obscenely expensive luxury. They assumed that someone must have somehow dropped it there. Perhaps a visiting friend or neighbor was the victim of some mistake. After quite a lot of entirely harmless daydreaming, the dumbfounded foursome came to a decision. They understood quite well that they couldn’t keep it. They asked friends about it and were quite careful to put ads into the South Bay and Penny Saver, the local newspapers, trying to find its lawful owner. Of course they all whined incessantly, ruing the ultimate moment of truth when they would have to part permanently with this mysteriously enchanting artifact . It seemed somehow to have possessed quite an overwhelming charm for them. If nothing else it was a major change of pace for the quartet, considering how uneventful their circumstances usually were. Every time a phone rang, they cringed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before their distinctive adventure would inevitably have to pass. Eventually the key’s rightful owner showed up. He was a friend who had absent mindedly dropped it at a recent party one night a few weeks before. At least now that the suspense was all over, they could all calm down and relax. For a short time they lived vicariously in a world of adventure and luxury. Once it all ended, though, it would be time for yet another succession of dull ordinary mundane chores.
The last time I went to the beach specifically in order to spend the day swimming was, believe it or not, on Groundhog Day. Mary Anne, Steve, Mark, some friends of theirs and I went there for a Polar Bear Club fund raiser. If we were ever to go there around this time of the year, on a bright sunny day, eating watermelon and having a leisurely enjoyable time, and suddenly from out of nowhere, hail were to start falling onto us, it most certainly wouldn’t be even the least bit difficult to find something else to do. Of course there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t stay on the beach so maybe we could go to someplace like either the Coffee Nut Cafe or Gentle Brew in order to get something really nice to eat or to drink. Those are both exceptionally good coffee shops on Park Avenue in Long Beach. We could even do what we did after our jaunt on Groundhog Day. We could very easily come back to the house and have a few drinks or coffee, or both, right here. It would be difficult to get there but at least we could stay indoors and have something enjoyable to do until the storm abated. Since the beach is only around a half mile walk from here it’s never the least bit difficult, although there would be quite a few other disgruntled people to have to deal with under such a harrowing set of circumstances. The only thing that would make it unbearably aggravating, would be that, since the beach is so close to here, we would most probably have walked there. That would mean that we’d have to walk away in such unbearably miserable weather. Even in a car, we’d be forced to drive so unbearably slowly in order to avoid any trouble. For people who have to travel an even reasonably significant distance to the beach, of course, things wouldn’t work out the least bit well. Of course that’s all assuming it’s only a moderate hailstorm. If it gets very bad, we’ll have to hide under the boardwalk.
Guadalupe (Lupita) Martinez was a young, lovely resident of Lindenhurst, N.Y., and an employee of the Acme Corporation on Wellwood Avenue in the middle of her Long Island village. With all her beauty, elegance, grace, intelligence, sophistication and education though, she thought it quite difficult to find a decent man. One day, her two best friends, Jenny Randy and Sharon Ferdinand, sick and tired of her non stop whining about her supposed impending spinsterhood, presumed to take it upon themselves to fix her up with a real gentleman. After having asked several other friends for help, they managed to end up with Sharon’s cousin Reginald who, they’d hoped, would strike her as at least an interesting decent guy. As it turns out, though, Reginald was a bit of a character, to put it as politely as possible. Having just broken up with his girlfriend, Rachel, he was more than somewhat prone toward irrational tendencies. His emotions overtook him so that he soon fancied himself a long-lost member of ancient Irish royalty. Lupita, though, having known nothing of his weird ways, never suspected anything when she took her friends up on their offer. At 8:00 on Friday night, she showed up, as agreed, at Katie Daly’s on Merrick Road in Massapequa, politely awaiting the arrival of her suitor. She thought it was going to be a typical blind date until she noticed his bodyguards. It turns out that he had really started to go entirely overboard with his latest fantasy. There he stood, all prim and proper, before her, in what he assumed was traditional ancient Irish garb. The poor fellow spent the entire night regaling her with stories of the spurious adventures of long-ago druids and other mythological characters, each of whom existed only in his hyperactive imagination. He drove Lupita crazy but she didn’t have the nerve to risk hurting his feelings. She felt awfully bad about how nasty a time she was having. After it was all over she went home, relieved to be free of him. The next day, when she got in touch with her friends, Sharon told her: “At least it’s only a once in a lifetime occurrence”. “You can count on an absolute guarantee of that!”, snapped Guadalupe.
This past weekend, for Independence Day, my father’s relatives got together in Hilldale, Pennsylvania, as they have ever since 1961. My cousin Vinnie, originally from Buffalo, New York but now living outside Raleigh, North Carolina, was there. He and I, as always, got into one of our more seriously obnoxious moods, rehashing several incidents from our long-ago past. Ever since we were kids, he and I have shared quite a long series of misadventures every time we’ve gotten together. Over the course of our lifetimes, we’ve accumulated quite a supply of inside jokes and catch phrases. Long ago a girlfriend of his claimed that we speak our own language entirely. We spent the entire past weekend reminding each other of things like the time I side-swiped a school bus on the way to the beach, my polka-dotted jammies, and Lydia and Delfina, the eccentric sisters who, for decades, owned a most unusual candy store on Farrell Street in Hilldale. Lydia and Delfina are entirely impossible even to try to explain to someone who never met them. Their store was quite a one-of-a-kind fantasy land, in a world entirely its own. Even the very best of writers couldn’t possibly even so much as try to invent characters of their ilk. Vinnie and I did quite an admirable job of revisiting their world and relating all their rollicking misadventures. Since Vinnie and I have known each other for our entire lives, and our escapades have been in New York, Pennsylvania and Canada, we did quite a significant amount of very intense laughing about all these bygone things, people and circumstances. Anything that happens anywhere near us inevitably turns, by definition, into fodder for something inexplicably humorous.
Harvey and Shirley Wallsteadter, and their kids, really wanted to go to his family’s annual picnic on the Memorial Day weekend. Each year they make sure they pinch all their pennies, foregoing all luxuries, howsoever slight or trivial, so they can afford this one big annual trip. It’s the only time they get to see all his relatives together so it’s the absolute highlight of eveyone’s year.
The big day finally arrived. They made the three hundred mile drive to Hecksher State Park in East Islip, on the south shore of Long Island. Unfortunately they’re only allowed to get the park for one day each year. If the weather isn’t good enough on the appointed day, there’s no second chance. All the relatives gathered together in their favorite spot very early in the morning so the could set up all the picnic tables.
Finally it was noon and everyone wanted a nice hearty lunch. The people on k.p. duty set the tables so nicely. Just as they were about to put all the food upon them, cousin Elmer noticed some terrifyingly black and grey clouds upon the horizon. Aunt Flo Pauline’s complexion blanched entirely. There were people there from all over the country and they couldn’t afford to make any changes.
Of course, being the industrious bunch that they’ve always been they managed to figure something out quite soon. First and foremost they made sure they all shut their car windows. Cousin Leroy reminded them that they could always go to the gift shop, buy an umbrella for each of them, and spend the day shopping in all the gift shops and enjoying all the other indoor attractions. Conveniently, since they always spend the entire weekend together each year, the food wouldn’t be wasted. They’d just have to make sure they took it all over to their hotel rooms.
In a way it was all so depressing because they were forced to miss out on the single most significant part of the entire weekend. Nothing’s ever struck them as so enjoyable as the picnic. In spite of all the initial frustration and resentment, Harvey and Shirley, along with all the others, got quite a kick out of their bad break.
I’ve never been able to stand Freud. He’s the type of character who appeals to the college-educated left. I don’t interpret dreams, or anything else, by any standard of his. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to remember any recent dreams I’ve had. Somehow, though, I can remember a dream that I frequently had several years ago. It was a dream during which I drove from Long Island to northeastern Pennsylvania and back on one very easy road. Anyone who’s taken that trip at least once knows that it’s a bit more complicated than that. A trip from Lindenhurst to Wyoming is quite a chore, even at its very best. With absolutely no trouble whatsoever it may take as little as three hours and fifteen minutes but it took an exceptionally short time in my dream. Considering that New York and northeastern Pennsylvania are the only two places in which I have ever lived the dream may have been making an attempt to tell me that my life isn’t quite as difficult and harrowing an experience as I often make it seem. Of course there’s always the equally believable chance that it’s saying my life is much more troubling than I think it is. The entire gist of the dream seems to be the fact that there’s quite a major difference between what appears to be happening and what is really transpiring.